- Title: USA/CUBA: Movie follows baseball star's journey home to Cuba
- Date: 25th April 2009
- Summary: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (APRIL 22, 2009) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LUIS TIANT, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER, SAYING "All I did was go with them when they took me everywhere. We went to the pitch to see the baseball players play. I didn't get in shape to play. I said 'no" I wouldn't play. I couldn't play. So they played and I watched smoking a cigar and laughing at them and the things they did."
- Reuters ID: LVAPVWDM4TMAL32DLJSE850FWYD
- Duration: 00:00:22
- Story Text: One of baseball's greatest showmen returns to the spotlight in a documentary film that infuses the drama of sport with the emotions surrounding Cuba's revolution, isolation and gradual re-opening to the United States.
More significantly for Luis Tiant, he returned to his native Cuba 46 years after getting caught outside the country during the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, unable to return without giving up his promising professional baseball career.
"The Lost Son of Havana," which premiers at New York City's Tribeca Film Festival, documents Tiant's 2007 return to Havana. There he was re-united with family, friends and former teammates who alternately embrace him and resent his search for fame while leaving Cuba behind.
U.S. and Cuban authorities allowed him to return in conjunction with an exhibition baseball game.
"All I did was go with them when they took me everywhere,"
said Tiant about his experience being filmed for the documentary. "We went to the pitch to see the baseball players play. I didn't get in shape to play. I said no, I wouldn't play. I couldn't play. So they played and I watched smoking a cigar and laughing at them and the things they did."
Tiant, 68, still wears his big droopy mustache, now turned white, and smokes jumbo cigars, making him a natural for the camera, just as he was in 1975. His magnificent and charismatic performance in the World Series that year as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox made him one of the most popular players in the game.
Many fans recall the 1975 series, in which the Cincinnati Reds defeated Boston in seven games, as the most exciting they have ever seen.
"We love a good story and when we heard that Luis - whom we love, we grew up watching him - my brother and I - that he wanted to go back home to Cuba we just thought 'wow, it's a compelling story'. A man hasn't been home in 46 years, he's accomplished so much while he's away. It was the type of story where we didn't know where it was going to go and it excited us so we became instantly interested," said Bobby Farrelly, co-executive producer with his brother Peter.
The Farrelly brothers are best known for making comedies such as "Something About Mary" and break new ground with "The Lost Son of Havana," directed by Jonathan Hock.
The film covers the diplomatic events that divided Cuba and the United States during the Cold War, forcing Tiant and other Cuban ballplayers to choose between remaining amateurs at home or aiming for the major leagues in the United States.
"They'll see the story of this great champion who was a champion on the field but that's only half the story," said Hock."And now they are going to learn the other half of how much he went through and how much he had to overcome to achieve what he did."
U.S. President Barack Obama this month relaxed some of the travel restrictions that helped keep Tiant and other Cubans in the United States from visiting their homeland.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Embargoed:10th May 2009 13:00
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None